All aspects of Proposal 1 deserve voter support

April 24, 2015
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Grand Rapids Business Journal has reported in more than 600 stories since late 2012 proposals to fund road repairs: from toll roads and corporate highway ownership to gas tax increases. The Business Journal has opined dozens of times since Gov. Engler’s administration that legislators had once again escaped or abdicated responsibility to assure Michigan roads are safe and funded for repair.

The scenario has barely changed, and every new legislative body, one after another, has turned its back on solutions — and created more problems. It is quite possibly the best scenario that Michigan voters make the decision directly May 1.

The Business Journal supports a collective “yes” vote on Proposal 1, not only because it funds road and bridge repairs but because it also puts in voters hands the opportunity to correct legislative dysfunction that resulted in financial theft from one fund or another depending on the political mood of the moment.

The Business Journal agrees with Gov. Rick Snyder’s often-repeated comment, as reported by the Associated Press: “When people say (Proposal 1) sounds very complicated, the real problem is what we have today is complicated, and we’re actually simplifying it. … By voting yes, we’ll change it so all of what you pay at the pump goes to transportation, which is what people want.”

It is not “pork”; it is an opportunity to put the money Michigan residents and businesses are paying in taxes back where it belongs. The road funds cannot be used for anything other than roads if the proposal passes.

The statewide ballot proposal language is as simply worded as possible but does not well correlate how a change in the sales tax necessitates the additional considerations.

Proposal 1 would increase road funding by $1.2 billion and the proposal explains how:

  • Eliminates sales/use taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel for vehicles on public roads.
  • Increases the sales/use tax from 6 percent to 7 percent, as authorized by constitutional amendment (and uses the extra one cent on the dollar to offset eliminating the gas tax).
  • Reduces the impact of the sales tax increase by increasing the earned income tax credit.
  • Provides $300 million to fund neighborhood schools to make up for prior cuts made by legislators raiding one fund for another.
  • Restores the outright legislative theft of city and county revenue funds by providing $100 million returned to local units of government.
  • Passing Proposal 1 also expands competitive bidding and warranties for road projects.

The Business Journal firmly believes that no legislative proposal could be better for Michigan.

Michigan businesses and citizens alike have been economically impacted by the road and bridge neglect now at crisis levels. Those drawn to this state by “Pure” Michigan will share in paying the cost of those repairs.

Proposal 1 fixes more than roads, and voters are empowered to make each of the (several) changes cowardly legislators have refused —or worse, blatantly ignored. Rather than be hoodwinked by imprecise opinions and lobbyists, as legislators have been, voters have the best opportunity ever to get things done, especially road repair.

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